I am a notorious plant-killer, so my mom bought me a plant. I'm not sure what the logic is, but it was branded as a Tough Plant so I guess she figured I couldn't kill it. Sir Leaflet's been doing surprisingly okay under my near-total negligence, but recently the stems have started developing these darker patches and I'm worried I'm about to send another plant to plant-heaven.

It's a Zamioculcas, and in the eight months or so that I've had it it's nearly doubled in height and has all sorts of new growth. It's sturdy, the leaves are waxy, and the black spots on the stems are just as strong as the surrounding growth; no mushiness or anything. The spots are on nearly every stem, are not raised and don't seem to be affecting the leaves.

It sits in my room and gets nearly direct sun for about 2-4 hours a day (there's a house right outside so I get half-sun over their roof), and indirect sun for another 6-8 or so. I water it when I remember, which isn't nearly often enough and the soil is frequently too dry. Then I flood it with half a waterbottle every couple of weeks when it occurs to me. I am, in short, just about the worst plant-caretaker.

Maybe I'm just over-paranoid about sending another plant to its grave, but is this something I've caused? Can I fix it? I don't want Sir Leaflets to go the way of his ancestors.

Full plantStem shot #1Stem shot #2

  • @pnuts Well that's a relief! Feel free to make that into an answer
    – Alex
    Jun 23 '17 at 14:41
  • 1
    Actually, what you're doing - letting the soil dry and then thoroughly watering it is the preferred method. Just make sure after 15 minutes or so to drain off any standing water.
    – Jude
    Jun 23 '17 at 18:11
  • I'd suggest reading over the Wikipedia article, especially the parts on caring for it. If you enlarge the first image, you'll see similar dark spots on the stems. If your plant keeps growing well, consider re-potting it in a bigger pot. Or get your mom or someone who's experienced do it and show you how so you can do it the next time yourself. Make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom. It's hard to tell from your photo.
    – Jude
    Jun 23 '17 at 18:28

This plant loves to be root bound. The ZZ plant? Your pot has a built in saucer that holds the water and could easily cause root rot. You could transplant this plant but do it in a heavy clay pot. Raise the bottom of the pot off the surface of its saucer to allow better drainage and always dump the water out of the saucer. Only use sterilized potting soil for plants in pots. No rock or gravel at the bottom beneath the soil and above the drainage hole.

The size of the next pot should be no larger than 2" in diameter. This plant likes to fill the soil with roots before any energy gets put into new top growth.

Get Osmocote 14-14-14. It is extended release and for this plant once maybe twice per year this fertilizer should be applied. Follow the directions. They say 3 or 4 times but only do 1 or 2 times for the entire year.

Ignoring this plant is probably the best management. Needs a new pot with decent drainage, clay is best. No one is born knowing how to take care of plants. Plants are more alien to us than a real alien. Amazing life forms...they actually communicate via chemistry, some dance to music, they learn and remember... they are just different from us animals. They try to communicate with animals and work with/evolve with animals creating symbiotic relationships. If there is a problem, well they can actually poison or kill animals to reduce the damage to their photosynthetic growth they need at least at a minimum to produce their own food. They love music, not heavy metal. They need periods of darkness to 'reset' or they die. Talk to your plant. Imagine talking to an alien incapable of producing sound for communication. Your mom got you the perfect plant. It does need light, not lots but some. Allow to dry before watering again. Get used to the feel of a watered plant. When it needs water again you'll easily be able to discern the difference in heft. Awww...give it a name! If you are able to care for plants, a puppy surely is in your future!?? zz plant care basics


I have mine with the same spots. My ZZ looks pretty healthy. Once a month I take all the dust from on top the leaves. I water occasionally. But I check the soil 3 X a week. I love mine. So, I really recommend to you, put set in your calendar, once a week to check your ZZ. You will never forget to water. Also, I talk with mine, I kiss some leaves, in my home the music are on all the time.

  • Good answer; if could include overal size, watering amount & frequency, nutrient type & amount & frequency, hours of sunlight per day, hours of diffused light per day, average daytime temperature, average night time temperature, size of container, and if some coarse gravel in the bottom and a hole in the bottom for good aereation & drainage, could also be helpful, since your ZZ is doing well. We encourage you to take the Tour, and browse through the Help center, to learn more about how the site works! Thank you! Welcome to the site!
    – M H
    Sep 2 '20 at 5:13

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